GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
For years, GAO has raised concerns about the ability of the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (Service) to track the amounts it obligates for and spends on timber sales and to use this information in managing the sales.
American Samoa, a U.S. territory, relies on federal funding to support government operations and deliver critical services. The Secretary of the Interior has administrative responsibility for coordinating federal policy in the territory.
Decades of fire suppression, as well as changing land management practices, have caused vegetation to accumulate and become altered on federal lands. Concerns about the effects of wildland fires have increased efforts to reduce fuels on federal lands. These efforts also have environmental effects.
In 2003, wildfires burned roughly 4 million acres, destroyed over 5,000 structures, took the lives of 30 firefighters, and cost over $1 billion to suppress. The substantial expense of fighting wildfires has exceeded the funds appropriated for wildfire suppression nearly every year since 1990.
In 2002, the United States experienced one of the worst wildland fire seasons in the past 50 years--almost 7 million acres burned. These fires included the largest and costliest fire in Oregon in the past century--the Biscuit Fire.
Historically, the Forest Service has not been able to provide Congress or the public with a clear understanding of what the Forest Service's 30,000 employees accomplish with the approximately $5 billion the agency receives every year.